SO, WHAT CAN WE ALL LEARN FROM THIS?
“With so many businesses worldwide having been affected and itching
to get back to business as usual, perhaps we should stop and think, is rushing back into ‘business as usual’ really a good idea?”
It's a very strange time we find ourselves in. Some people have said that the Coronavirus has been an act of God, or a higher power in the universe teaching us all a lesson. I'm a person of science not faith, however surely there are some lessons and key insights to be gained from this situation.
With so many businesses worldwide having been affected and itching to get back to business as usual, perhaps we should stop and think, is rushing back into 'business as usual' really a good idea?
At Construct we spend a lot of time thinking about the sweet spot between our client's universe, and what their audiences truly value. Surely the impact of this global pandemic and lockdown will change and shift consumer behaviour, their values and how they want to be communicated to.
Some brands have been proactive, using this 'down-time' time to engage and connect to their most loyal customer base with the aim to learn, adapt and plan ahead for a post-Covid world.
Mr and Mrs Smith recently issued a survey to their database, their cover note reads "During this unprecedented time we’re thinking about how Mr & Mrs Smith and the industry as a whole will look going forward, and we’d like to refine how we’ll be looking after our members and adapting to changes in travel when we all reach the other side." I personally found this to be a refreshing and an honest request for information, so obliged without hesitation.
Continuing to look at the travel and hospitality industry, one that has been hugely affected, Misty Belle, Managing Director of Virtuoso predicts “In a post-Covid world, people will value advisors for their connections and guidance that goes beyond destination and product expertise. Having a real-life person to assist [you] underscores the significance of human connection and the reassurance of knowing someone has your back.” So this shift in behaviour will hopefully be good news for travel agents, but highlights the importance of human connection, in what was previously becoming an automated digital world.
"At Construct we spend a lot of time thinking about the sweet spot between our client's universe, and what their audiences truly value."
Safety and security has already been huge concern and value shared by many consumers. Robert Cole, senior analyst at Phocuswright predicts “Travelers will likely consider staying in someone else’s residence to be riskier than a hotel. Vacation rentals may be less negatively impacted, but hotels will be touting their cleaning standards and the dedication of their staff to ensuring guest safety and security. It will be much more difficult for Airbnb and other short-term rental groups to establish and enforce standards across thousands of independent hosts.” So some good news for hotels.
We know from our research that year on year UHNWI and HNWI are more concerned about the environment and actively making choices with the aim to combat climate change, whether that's investing in renewable energy or choosing a sustainable retreat for an upcoming trip.
One silver lining of the Coronavirus and lockdown has been the positive impact on the environment. China during lockdown has seen carbon emissions fall by around 25 percent over a four-week period. Air pollution in Northern India has reduced so much that citizens there are actually seeing the view of the Himalayan mountain range for the first time in their lives. And I'm sure we've all seen the images of fish thriving in the clearer waters of Venice's canals.
"We know from our research that year on year UHNWI and HNWI are more concerned about the environment and actively making choices with the aim to combat climate change"
Whilst it is unrealistic to say a global pandemic is the answer to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with all of these positive impacts as of late, isn't it wise for brands to take this time to reflect and plan how they can step up even further in their commitment to the battle against climate change? Simultaneously winning trust and loyalty from consumers, whilst doing their part to save the planet. That's a win-win surely?
As lockdown is slowly being lifted and we're allowed to travel internationally (though encouraged to travel domestically), no doubt these shifts in consumers values and behaviours will be watched very closely by the Construct team.
TIME TO BREATHE
“When we had reached the end of entertainment, when there was nothing left to distract us, only then did we give ourselves some time to breathe.”
Inspiration is the action of making air enter one’s lungs. This is the first thing we do when we are born, our first vital reflex that signifies the beginning of our human life in the world. In Ancient Greek culture, the Muses were believed to be the holders of the knowledge of literature, sciences and arts, spreading divine influence over people; a muse refers today as a source of inspiration, and museums – yesterday the places where muses were worshipped – have become places we visit and explore in our quest for inspiration. As with many other things we can’t explain, we leave to chance, destiny and luck the credit of experiencing creativity, in the belief that we, as humans, can be gifted. How incredible would it be to be able to order inspiration, if we had the keys to that door, if we could automatise the process, would it reduce the doubtful attempts, the effort of seeking, the pain of failing at finding inspiration? Or should we leave it to the gods and keep the mystery entirely?
Surprisingly I can remember my first source of inspiration, the one that would make me become a designer. As a child, I used to spend my summer holidays in a little town on the coast of Normandy, a place where there was not much to see, where there was not much to do. So uninspiring in fact that my grandmother, in a desperate attempt to entertain us, brought us one day to the only museum of the town, an ancient abbey, where monks used to produce a relatively famous herb liquor. It’s small museum shop was selling liquor bottles, magnets and mugs, and this is where, at 12, I fell in love with a poster that never left me since. I still cannot explain why this piece of graphic design struck me that much, but I knew deep inside that this was what I would be doing. I didn’t know anything about graphic design back then, so it was quite a brave but presumptuous feeling.
At 12 then, I was inspired by the work of a renowned French designer, which would influence all my future drawings as a child, it was going to make me discover typography, photography and collages. It made me hungry to learn about the past, about the present, and it still influences my practice today.
"Great creatives are able to pull inspiration from multiple sources."
Most of the time, we are inspired by the work of someone else. Some artists, such as Van Gogh or Picasso were widely imitating and copying the work of others, which shows that imitation can also generate creativity if there is an interpretation factor in the process. They could adapt and evolve their style by learning from others.
Great creatives are able to pull inspiration from multiple sources. Neuroscience says that our brains use the information that is stocked already, and combine it into new ideas, new concepts. The ability to find inspiration would then also be the ability to explore the world and to collect images, sounds, tastes, to breathe them in and feed our brains, suggesting that the more we are curious, develop various interests and try new things, the better we would be at creating.
The exceptional circumstances of the Coronavirus pandemic have made us experience a very special moment of our lives: our contexts didn't allow us to leave our homes and explore freely, and we were deprived of travel, restaurants, museums, nature, and most of our usual social interactions. We could think that there was not much food for our brains, being at home and waiting, suffocating, longing for all the things we didn't have, longing for noisier, busier, more fulfilled days.
At one point, as I was working in the living room my 3 year old daughter, whose nursery was temporarily closed due to the pandemic, came to me screaming and crying, visibly in despair; panicked I asked her what was wrong, thinking she had probably hurt herself. ‘What can I do, Mama? What can I do?’ she asked. She was telling me she was bored. This seemed to be creating a lot of anxiety for her, a small kid being used to a lot more stimulation at the nursery, to a lot more demanding routine, respecting schedules and being given activities to perform in a military-like cadence. (You would be surprised at how disciplined she can be outside our home.)
This event made me wonder and with some quick research I ended up realising that a lot of specialists praise boredom for children. Kids need time with themselves, to disconnect but also to day-dream, to think, to invent and to find out what they like and what they’re good at, they need time to be inspired. This ‘empty time’ allows them to be unsatisfied, therefore to seek a new activity and to be creatively busy.
"You can invent your own language, see elephants in your yogurt bowl, and invite the cat for tea and biscuits."
By letting our minds wander around while doing simple tasks, we are more likely to come up with new ideas and responses; by letting kids – and ourselves – enjoy a more down-to-earth routine, by cooking, cleaning, gardening, contemplating, are we allowing them – and ourselves – the brain space to invent their own stories? Can we see in the people around us, in our homes, in our habits – yesterday insignificant, but today inspiring – details of our new stories?
Things can happen when you are bored. You can find out about your future career in the weird and only museum of a little town on the coast of Normandy. Or like my daughter, you can invent your own language, see elephants in your yogurt bowl, and invite the cat for tea and biscuits.
When we had reached the end of entertainment, when there was nothing left to distract us, only then did we give ourselves some time to breathe. The only things to explore might have been small empty rooms and the immensity of silence, only our own echo may have responded to us in that moment, but we took that time. Time to be bored, to be influenced, to be inspired.